The 2013 NBA Draft Lottery will take place tonight, with the Orlando Magic standing the best odds to win the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft at 25 percent. Of course, as well all know, the team who finishes with the worst record and highest odds rarely wins the first selection in the draft. Many have cried and theorized about conspiracies, while others simply claim it is bad luck and poor decision making. Whatever the case, many teams have had their entire future landscapes altered by the bounce and selection of a few ping pong balls.
You don’t have to look back too far. It was quite controversial when the then NBA owned New Orleans Hornets won the No. 1 overall pick right before they were about to be sold to the highest bidder. Winning the rights to draft Anthony Davis certainly boosted the value of the team. But that was just one case. Truth be told, this dates all the way back to 1985, which was the first year the NBA held the draft lottery system. Take a look at the 5 biggest game changers to come from the NBA Draft Lottery. Some were controversial. Some involved terrible decision making. Others involved bad luck. All were game changers.
5. 2007: The Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics stood the best chances to receive the top two picks and win the Kevin Durant or Greg Oden sweepstakes. They both fell to No. 4 and No. 5. The Portland Trail Blazers received the top pick but foolishly chose Oden instead of Durant. The Celtics traded their pick to the Seattle Sonics, who also drafted Durant, for Ray Allen and won the upcoming NBA Championship. The Grizzlies drafted Mike Conley Jr. One can say that the team who won the No. 1 pick turned out to be the biggest losers.
4. 2008: The Miami Heat went through some difficult times after winning their first NBA Championship, falling to 15-67 prior to the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery. Many teams were rebuilding, but Miami seemed like a slid bet to land the top spot and put themselves in a position to draft Derrick Rose. As we all know, Miami fell to No. 2. It may not seem like a lot, but one spot was once again the difference between a league MVP and just another bust. Somehow, the Chicago Bulls shot all the way from No. 9 up to the No. 1 overall spot and drafted Rose. The Heat took Michael Beasley, passing on Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and many others. But then they went out and signed all of the All-Stars a few years later.
3. 1997: The Boston Celtics were supposed to finally make their return to NBA relevance – if not glory – by selecting Tim Duncan. The team needed another star, especially in the front court. Duncan was going to be that player. The San Antonio Spurs, who were already a solid team, but were bad for one year due to an injury to David Robinson, won the top pick and grabbed Duncan. The rest is history. The Spurs have won four NBA Championships under the leadership of Duncan. The Celtics had two top pick that year and drafted Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer. They bypassed, well, not really anybody. It was an extremely uneventful draft overall.
2. 1992: The Minnesota Timberwolves were still a fairly new expansion team in need of landing a franchise player. They had the worst record the previous season, but with the weighted lottery system not in effect until two more years, it was actually even easier to leapfrog other teams back then. Minnesota found that out the hard way, as they were forced to watch the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets pass them for the top two picks. Those picks just happened to be Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. The Timberwolves got Mr. All-America and Duke superstar Christian Laettner, although he clearly peaked in college.
1. 1985: Ah, the year it all began. The “Frozen Envelope.” The Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers were expected to get the top two picks, but, alas, it went to the New York Knicks. They took Patrick Ewing. The Pacers drafted Wayman Tisdale while the Warriors selected Benoit Benjamin. Those two passed up the likes of Chris Mullin, Charles Oakley, Karl Malone, Joe Dumars and A.C. Green, and many were bitter about how the whole thing went down.